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Man Who Chased, Fatally Shot Wife Commits Suicide

Slaying: Deputies fail to coax him from barricaded home. Shocked neighbors say friendly couple gave no signs of trouble.

February 28, 1996|THAO HUA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAGUNA NIGUEL — Hours after fatally shooting his wife and barricading himself inside his condominium, a 64-year-old Neighborhood Watch captain turned the gun on himself early Tuesday and committed suicide.

For about five hours, investigators repeatedly tried to persuade Dean Rawley to surrender. At 1:30 a.m., he hung up the telephone while talking to authorities and shot himself in the head, Sheriff's Lt. Ron Wilkerson said.

The double shooting stunned residents of the quiet Stoney Pointe complex, a gated community where retirees Dean and Teri Rawley had lived for about two years.

There had been no sign of trouble, no hint of violence at the couple's neat beige townhouse, friends and investigators said.

"I'm just in shock," said Cherie Howard, 31, a close friend of Teri Rawley. "I have no idea what they might have been fighting over. I would never have expected this from him."

Witnesses said they saw Dean Rawley brandishing a gun and chasing his 59-year-old wife, who was frantically running from their home, about 8 p.m. Monday. She rushed down the street until she found an open garage in which to seek shelter, neighbors said.

Dean Rawley followed, apparently firing a semiautomatic handgun as he ran, Wilkerson said.

Teri Rawley entered a friend's house through the garage and hid in a bedroom, where her husband found her moments later and fired several shots, witnesses and deputies said. She died at the scene.

Dean Rawley returned to his own garage and refused to surrender. Sheriff's deputies, SWAT team members and K-9 units converged on the condominium. A helicopter flew overhead as hostage negotiators talked to Rawley by telephone. About five hours after the standoff, the husband committed suicide, Wilkerson said.

Friends and neighbors said Dean and Teri Rawley were married about three years ago. He had run a construction company and she had been a manager at a local company before they both retired.

The couple had two grown children each, grandchildren and a cat. Friends described the Rawleys as a pleasant pair who enjoyed weekend getaways and often invited neighbors to dinner.

"They loved movies," neighbor Alice Kline said. "They went to the movies two or three times a week."

Investigators said they don't know what sparked Monday's shooting and have no record of domestic violence calls to the couple's home.

Sue Robinson, a next-door neighbor, said she had never witnessed the couple "having any kind of a problem."

In the quiet, gated community where "everyone knows each other," retired couples such as the Rawleys often plan outings together, Kline said. In the evenings, residents often congregate in front of their garages and talk about family, food and the day's events.

"She was always talking about her daughter," Kline said.

Teri Rawley loved children and cooking, especially pasta. Howard said she always remembered to buy birthday and Christmas presents for Howard's children and gave them "an abundance of hugs and kisses."

Teri Rawley had a son and daughter with her previous husband, who died years ago. After the children were married--one of them moved to Ohio and the other still lives in California--Teri Rawley remarried and moved from Anaheim Hills to Laguna Niguel with her new husband about two years ago, friends said.

Dean Rawley was a block captain for the Neighborhood Watch program and had distributed the group's newsletter to neighbors earlier Thursday.

Before retiring, he worked in construction and was known in his neighborhood as "someone who everyone went to for information about how to do things," Kline said.

"He's very generous," she said. "He was in construction and had built a patio cover. He had a lot of tools that he would loan to everybody.

"Everyone here is pretty upset about this. We're all stunned."

Times staff writer Anna Cekola contributed to this report.

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